NBA D-League Week Ahead: January 21, 2009

by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com

Kyrylo Fesenko is currently on assignment to the Utah Flash.
Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images/NBAE
Sims Joins Phoenix, NBA D-League Players Change Addresses

The NBA D-League saw its fourth GATORADE Call-Up of the 2008-09 season when Iowa's Courtney Sims signed with the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. A 6-11 center, Sims was one of the best players in the league this season, ranking in the top three in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and field-goal percentage. He was in his second season with Iowa, who is also the NBA D-League affiliate of the Suns. In other call-up news, Jermareo Davidsonsigned a second 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors, who signed him from the Idaho Stampede earlier this month.

Tuesday also saw three trades that saw some familiar names change teams, with the headliner being the acquisition of Ronald Dupree by the Utah Flash. A five-year NBA veteran and the Tulsa 66ers' leading scorer this season,was traded to Utah for newly acquired center Steven Hill, who was with the 66ers on assignment from the Thunder earlier this season. The 66ers also made another move when they traded veteran forward Chris Ellis to Sioux Falls for guard Gary Forbes. Forbes, the Skyforce's first round pick, is averaging 16.5 points this season but was dealt to make room for the return of 2007-08 NBA D-League MVP Kasib Powell. In a third trade on Tuesday, Rio Grande Valley sent Tierre Brown, recently acquired after being waived by Anaheim, to the Idaho Stampede for forward Jason Ellis. Brown averaged 15.8 points and 5.2 assists this season for the Arsenal.

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NBA D-League Player To Watch

James White, Anaheim Arsenal

The 6-7 White has been unstoppable for Anaheim as of late and now leads the NBA D-League with 25.5 points per game. He has picked up his game in the month of January, averaging 30.3 points and has to be considered a top candidate for Player of the Month honors. On Tuesday night he scored 47 points in a loss to Rio Grande Valley, which is the highest total scored in the D-League this season and only six points shy of the single-game record. Anaheim's first-round pick in November's draft, White was assigned to the D-League during the 2006-07 season as a member of the Spurs before playing overseas last year.

Assigned Player To Watch

Kyrylo Fesenko, Utah Flash (Jazz)

Fesenko is back in Orem for the second straight season on assignment from the Jazz. After seven games he is averaging 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Flash, who have gone 5-2 with him in the lineup. The 7-1 center from Ukraine earned a nod in the NBA D-League All-Star Game last season as a rookie and will be ranked among the league's top rebounders if he plays in enough Flash games to qualify.

Austin's Malik Hairston is one of the NBA D-League's top scorers.
Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images/NBAE
This Week's Key D-League Games

Here is a rundown of some key D-League matchups to watch this week. You can follow any D-League game via the courtside box and watch the game live via the NBA Futurecast at this link.

Friday: Colorado 14ers at Idaho Stampede

The Stampede are still undefeated at home this year, winning all nine of their games after going 24-4 in Boise during the 2007-08 season. Idaho will have their hands full on Friday though, as a Colorado 14ers team that has won six straight games will pay a visit. The 14ers' biggest win in team history came at Qwest Arena back in 2007, when they upset the host Stampede in the playoffs to earn a spot in the D-League Championship game in their first season. Colorado lost both meetings with Idaho last season.

Saturday: Austin Toros at Albuquerque Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds are one of the league's hottest teams, compiling a 7-2 record in January. They have closed to five games behind first-place Austin in the Southwest Division. The Toros, looking to win the division for the second straight season, are a half-game behind Idaho for the league's best record with a 14-6 mark. The Toros boast two players in the top eight in scoring, with assigned San Antonio Spur Malik Hairston ranking fifth with 21.0 points and Marcus Williams checking in at eighth with 20.1 points per contest.

Sunday: Iowa Energy at Erie BayHawks

The Energy will move on without Courtney Sims, and will look to keep pace in the Central Division where they are currently tied with Dakota for the lead. The BayHawks are two and a half games behind in the Central with an 11-11 record. Erie has won both meetings with the Energy this season, both at home, and will host Iowa again on Sunday. Erik Daniels, Erie's leading scorer and seventh in the league with 20.6 points, has posted double-doubles in five straight and nine of his last 12 games.